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Your Link to Muskoka's Water!


Gardening & Landscaping 

Importance of Shoreline Buffers

Natural shoreline vegetation plays an important role in maintaining water quality; therefore, by removing vegetation and altering your waterfront landscape, you can directly impact the water quality of your lake.

Natural vegetation along a shoreline will protect against soil erosion, filter pollutants from runoff water, trap excess nutrients, provide aquatic and terrestrial habitat for plants and animals, and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides. It will also cost you less to build and maintain.

A riparian buffer zone of trees, shrubs and grasses will filter sediments, fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants that reduce water quality and destroy fish habitat. The buffer zone will also prevent erosion at the water's edge and improve fish habitat by shading and cooling the water. The buffer zone provides protective cover for birds, mammals and other wildlife that feed, breed and rear their young near the water.

Man-made features such as retaining walls disturb the growth of natural vegetation, both in the shallow water and water's edge. They also cause waves to stir up sediments that are harmful to fish habitat.

What are some common waterfront landscaping problems and solutions?


Native vs Non-Native Plants

Native plants and landscapes have many benefits for the environment and surrounding communities. By planting native plants on your property (especially along the shoreline) you are providing:

  • Plants with deep roots to help retain water and prevent erosion
  • Better time and cost management
  • Improved water quality as the plants help filter runoff
  • Wildlife habitat
  • An area that deters nuisance wildlife like geese
  • An area less likely to be colonized by invasive species
  • Cooler water temperatures and increased fish habitat


Native Species in Muskoka

Vegetation within the riparian zone (closest to the water's edge) must be water tolerant and have a deep root system to stabilize soils and reduce erosion. 

Trees found along the shoreline include:

Shrubs found along the shoreline include:

Prune trees for views rather than removing them, and allow Mother Nature to establish natural plant colonies.

Every spring, various Muskoka organizations hold native plant sales, including the Muskoka Conservancy, the Muskoka Lakes Association, and the Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation.


Local Nurseries

Check your local yellow pages for a complete list of garden centres and nurseries that carry native plant species.


Healthy Lawn Care

There are many steps that can be taken to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, which are designed to kill insects, weeds, and diseases respectively. Both the federal and provincial governments regulate pesticides. Before a pesticide product may be sold or used in Ontario, it must be classified.

Prevention is an easy step that saves you time in the long run and only requires a little initial planning.

  • Plant native species, as they are heartier and more resistant to pests and diseases.
  • Choose plants appropriate for the site's drainage, sun exposure and soil type.
  • Consider companion planting, which involves strategic plantings (one plant repels the pests that another may attract).
  • The more the merrier. By integrating a variety of plants into your yard, you are more likely to create a balanced ecosystem.
  • Keep your yard as natural as possible. Using more trees, groundcovers, flowers and mulches helps prevent diseases.
  • Raised beds allow for closer plantings, more root development, and exceptional drainage.
  • Perform crop rotation and encourage garden diversity.
  • Pay attention to your garden with regular monitoring.
  • Know which insects are beneficial and which are not.

When maintaining your property, only remove dead or diseased portions of trees, shrubs and other vegetation. Hand picking weeds is an effective, environmentally friendly way of managing plant pests.

Mow no more than 1/3 of the grass blade and leave clippings on the lawn to return nutrients to the soil.

Natural pest control products can be found at local nurseries or hardware stores.

  • Horticultural oils are popular for controlling pests on ornamental plants.
  • Insecticidal soap can be used for aphid, mite and whitefly control.
  • Neem seed extract works as a repellant, growth regulator and insect poison.
  • Diatomaceous earth can be used for insect and mite management.

A trap can also be very effective. You just need to attract the pest to a container from which they can't escape.

Healthy soil contains organic matter in various stages of decomposition. High fungi, bacteria and other microscopic life are signs of a good soil. They break down organic matter into carbon, nitrogen and other elements, which are then taken up by plant roots for food. The more organic matter in your soil, the better.

Mulches are materials placed on top of the soil and are effective in reducing weed and insect pests. Mulches can include:

  • Compost
  • Bark
  • Grass clippings

Beneficial insects are a great addition to your property, including:

  • Ladybugs
  • Green lacewings
  • Predatory mites
  • Parasitic nematodes

These are available at various supply houses and cannot be used in combination with a pesticide.


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